My mother used to say that anyone who liked to read couldn’t clear out an attic. That says more about the things people stored in their attics than about the actual cleaning of them, I think. I have found some good books stuck away in attics and storerooms, some of which I put there. This week I found a short stack of old magazines. One has my grandfather’s name and address (simply R 2 and the town) and is one of the business magazines he subscribed to. This one is Successful Farming, a copy from December, 1952.
I am not at all sure how it came to be saved for over 60 years. I do see a note on homemade solution for cleaning bricks and a recipe for plum pudding, marked in Gram’s special way, so maybe she saved it. She had a brick pad under the living room stove, which makes sense. I don’t recall plum pudding, but then I was very young. The magazine was intended for farming both inside and outside, so there are household issues as well as livestock and crop information, farm management and family fun, what’s going on in Washington that affects farmers, tips for shopping for toys, and of course advertisements for everything from manure spreaders to coffeepots. I especially like the way the magazine is all mixed up – no dinky halfhearted “women’s pages,” but a series of articles observant of the whole farm and the whole family.
Warming water for your herd alternates with decorating the living room. Cookies are arrayed on one page; the very next spread is about building a feed bunk for the cattle. You can indeed follow the “Tips for Toy Shoppers,” or get a .22 caliber repeating rifle “ideal for sons or husbands,” as a “Last-minute Christmas shopper.” Helpful articles abound on trimming the hoofs of livestock, keeping the chickens healthy, making salads (with gelatine, of course), and keeping termites out of your lumber. Making pajamas and costumes for the school pageant. Devising an item to loosen milk can lids out of an old washing machine wringer.
It all sounds extremely arduous, and the advertisements don’t give anyone a break. You need new tires for winter work on the tractor, or tire chains to climb hills. You have to have an alarm clock to pry you out in the morning. Mom and daughter look overjoyed while promoting one or more cleansers to spiff up the laundry; meanwhile brother is shown in the fields running the harvester smiling broadly because of the promise that, “...any boy who drives a tractor can operate a [Brand name] Forage Harvester.” You’ll also want life insurance, a sewing machine, a telephone, and, if you really are a successful farmer, a new 1953 car (“It’s fun to be practical,” promises Buick.) Or maybe a mechanized root pruner, which looks pretty practical, but not nearly as much fun. On the more economical side is a brand of detergent that will clean your dishes and your milking machine as well – scientists have researched it.
Last of all are the classified ads. Film finishing has its own category, as does “Feathers Wanted.” Apparently in and around all the useful tasks, one was snapping pictures, which you then got printed for about 40c per 8 photo roll. Nobody mentions handling color film, so you are on your own there. The feathers are apparently for pillows, although most buyers just call themselves feather companies. You can get Florida fruit from the classifieds, and sparrow traps, and puppies (“guaranteed heel drivers). And much more...
I don’t know how this one magazine escaped the stove or the trash, but I’m glad it did. I think I’ll go save some sheep and then have a nap. How about you?